Two years removed from a two-win season, the Ramblers found themselves back in the WIAA championship game for the first time since winning the Division 7 title in 2003.

The Ramblers, under the guidance of young coach Bryant Brenner, finished second in the Cloverbelt Conference, losing only to defending Division 5 state champion Colby on a last-second field goal. They were a machine in the playoffs, using a run-based attack to win their first four playoff games by an average score of 47-18. Regis shut down WFCA co-offensive player of the year Eric Oertel and Racine Lutheran in a Division 6 semifinal in a game it led 28-0 at the end of the first quarter, 42-0 at halftime and 46-0 in the third quarter.

Regis' run came to an end with a 46-7 loss to state power Edgar in the D6 championship game, but it was clear Brenner and company brought the program back to among the state's elite.

ALSO NOMINATED

UW-Eau Claire women's cross country: All-Americans Alyssa Sybilrud and Margaret Ho led the Blugolds to a first-place finish at the Division III national championships in Highland Hills, Ohio. The team became the third at UW-Eau Claire to win an NCAA national championship, joining the 2001 men's golf team and 2008 softball team.

Chippewa Valley Predators: After dominating the regular season and NEFL Western Conference playoffs, the Predators needed a second-half comeback to beat the Fox Valley Force in Elite Bowl II. But the 14-7 victory was as sweet as a blowout and brought a championship to Eau Claire. The Predators beat rival Eau Claire Crush and the Superior Stampede a combined five times.

Honorable mention: Express, Memorial boys soccer, North boys basketball, North baseball.

- John Casper Jr.